Financial aid initiative gives families a sporting chance
HELP ON HAND TO MEET HIGH COST OF PLAYING SPORT
WE are on a mission to uncover, recognise and reward young sporting talent from across the district. Through the Local Sports Stars program, Community Newspaper Group is also shining a light on people and programs that encourage children to get active and get involved. This week we look at the cost of sporting fees and the success of a program that is easing money worries and enabling more children to join a team. MARK DONALDSON reports.
SPORT is of great benefit to children, but the associated costs can become a burden for parents.
Equipment, travel and club fees can stack up, particularly with multiple kids on board.
But there is a way to ease the pressure.
Millions of dollars of financial assistance go towards sports costs each year.
These are council and State Government funds available to be used by parents.
The Department of Sport and Recreation’s KidSport is the key initiative.
Families with a healthcare card are eligible to receive up to $200 in vouchers per year per child to help with fees, equipment and uniform costs.
Parents apply for the grant through their local council.
The program has given out more than $12 million since its launch in 2011, with Armadale Junior Football Club the biggest beneficiary in terms of sporting organisations. KidSport has covered nearly 900 fee payments at the Gwynne Park Oval-based club in the past six years.
Armadale Junior Football Club treasurer Leanne Brown explained how the club did everything it could to help parents take advantage of the service.
“We have a scanner for them to scan their concession card, a laptop and Wi-Fi to do the online application at the clubrooms,” she said.
“The club has benefited greatly as we would not have the number of registered players that we have as some of our parents and caregivers are not able to afford the fees. It means that the kids don’t miss out on playing sport and the parents don’t have the financial burden of paying fees.”
Splitting the number of KidSport grants between council areas revealed City of Wanneroo residents took the lion’s share.
City of Wanneroo parents have received more than 10,500 vouchers in the past six years, including 2800 last year.
The City of Swan had the next highest uptake with almost 8000.
Families without a healthcare card can apply for the vouchers if they demonstrate financial hardship, such as sudden loss of a job or recovery from a fire or flood.
As to be expected, the number of residents who use KidSport is lower in areas of high income, such as the western suburbs where Mosman Park, Nedlands, Cottesloe and Peppermint Grove councils combined have just 75 applicants in the past year.
Outside KidSport, many councils offer travel grants to players representing WA or Australia.
City of Swan children and students aged up to 25 can access $500 for international sports travel or between $100 and $200 for domestic competition.
“The Swan Cash Donations program supports individual endeavour in competitive activities including sport, culture and the arts,” Swan chief executive Mike Foley said.
“Selection must have been through a competitive process and applicants must not have received a cash donation from the City in the same financial year.”
Swan provided 134 people with assistance through this program last year.
Councils including Wanneroo, Joondalup, Melville, South Perth, Mundaring, Gosnells and Mandurah reported similar initiatives.
Kids don't miss out on playing sport and parents don't have the financial burden of fees.
Caleb Blight, Ashton Mitchell, Lucas Warner, Rilee Hodges and Talisha Farmer of Armadale Junior Football Club, which is the biggest beneficiary of KidSport in WA.